The 10 Best Films of 2013, According to the Alamo Drafthouse

The 10 Best Films of 2013, According to the Alamo Drafthouse

Dec 31, 2013

We've been running plenty of our own Best of the Year content now that 2013 is coming to a close (and we've got more on the way still), but we wanted to take a break from our own lists to share one from a group we consider to be one of the most influential taste makers around these days: the Alamo Drafthouse. It's a particularly interesting list because it shows how the Drafthouse isn't just an art-house movie theater, it's a (pop) art-house movie theater that takes cinema seriously no matter where or who it comes from.


Every year the Alamo Drafthouse team – including staff from the programming offices of every location, Drafthouse Films, Mondo, Badass Digest, Fantastic Fest and more – vote on our favorite 10 films of the year. We’ve compiled all of those lists and ranked them according to staff vote, and these are the official top 10 titles of 2013, selected by the Alamo Drafthouse family.

10. Frances Ha

Perhaps being inspired to take a European vacation on credit cards was not the right message to get out of Francis Ha but it was hard not to walk away from the film more than a little in love with Greta Gerwig – downward spiral and all. Gerwig imbues the film with a life and energy that makes it impossible not to develop a crush on the movie. Francis Ha is a great many things – funny, beautifully shot, poignant (at least to this perpetually broke would-be artist) – but at the center of every facet of the film is the wonderful performance from Gerwig. (Robert Saucedo, programming director, Alamo Drafthouse Houston)

9. Before Midnight

Beautiful, engaging, with thoughtful dialogue and chemistry. (Britt Hayes, contributor, Badass Digest)

8. Pain and Gain

A flurry of violence and spectacle peppered with enough satire to make you give Michael Bay a second thought. Pain and Gain scoops you up and busts your guts before it body slams your face with pure fun. Also, the Rock delivers a career-defining performance as a coked-out Jesus freak. Take a muscled-up coke head on a date for this one. (Greg MacLennan, film programmer/lead video editor, Alamo Drafthouse)

7. 12 Years a Slave

I've heard some people claiming that Steve McQueen doesn't go far enough in 12 Years a Slave and I simply don't know what the f**k they're talking about. If he went any further he would have turned this story into a grotesquerie; if he threw any more pain and horror at the screen he would dilute the impact of the pain and horror already there. And there's a lot of pain and horror; 12 Years a Slave is sometimes a grueling experience, a movie where the psychological toll of keeping humans as slaves is as pronounced as the physical toll. McQueen is showing us how the institution of slavery was destroying everyone involved, even the slave owners. It presents slavery as a cancer that eats away at the basic humanity of all, filling the spaces within them with tumors of evil. It's powerful, made all the more powerful by the harrowing performance of Chiwetel Ejiofor as the ultimate Wrong Man. Is 12 Years a Slave more mainstream than McQueen's Hunger? Yes, but that's not a sin - a movie like this should be watched by people, not left on lists of movies they should eventually see. (Devin Faraci, editor-in-chief, Badass Digest)

6. Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen brothers’ latest is funny, strange, darkly beautiful – and very, very sad. It’s a film about the nature of grief and how isolating it can be, but it also reminds us of the ways that art and music can help us transcend that isolation, if only for a few fleeting moments. A lot of noise has been made that Oscar Isaac’s Llewyn – an asshole through and through, no doubt – isn’t a particularly sympathetic character, but I’ve felt more sympathy for him and his impenetrable solitude than just about any other character this year. (Meredith Borders, managing editor, Badass Digest)

5. The Act of Killing

When I say this movie is good, I mean it in every sense: the film is compelling as entertainment but it's also profound in what it exposes about humanity, and the way it explores how we tell stories and use them as fire walls against the harsh truths about ourselves. You almost can't believe what you're watching in this film - men who engaged in genocidal war crimes in Indonesia 50 years ago voluntarily reenact them for movie cameras, playing out mass slaughter and rape and admitting their complicity in atrocities. It's mind-boggling, and it offers an insight into how these things happen; after the Holocaust we all promised never again, but it's happened again and again, and The Act of Killing tries to shed some light on how that's possible. It's a crazy movie, one that will thoroughly rewire you for weeks to come. (Devin Faraci)

4. Her

Spike Jones can break your heart and put it back together again like a master craftsman. Scarlett Johansson was everything by creating something out of nothing. (Keith Garcia, creative manager, Alamo Drafthouse Littleton)

3. Spring Breakers

The movie left folks feeling dirty thanks largely in part to the gun sucking, the Manic Panic ski masks/bikinis and generally everything about James Franco. I loved it and I should note that I’m not one of those Harmony Korine types by nature. I’m the type of guy that gets a big kick out of the idea of Disney-loving teenagers (and maybe even their parents) going to see this movie thinking it’s something that it is very much not. This uncomfortable-to-the-point-of-hilarious movie was totally my favorite thing I saw in 2013. Word on the street is that the sequel will be 48 fps and in IMAX. Spring Break FOREVER! (John Gross, director of brand promotions)

2. Gravity

It's "Momentum: The Movie!" Physics was made terrifying and fascinatingly (mostly) real in Gravity. (Ryan Fons, Fons PR, PR for Alamo Drafthouse Companies)

1. Wolf of Wall Street

Yes, Wolf of Wall Street is divisive, but instead of made up of those who liked and those who didn't like, WoWS' audience is made up of those liked, those who didn't like, and those who are afraid of the mirror and want to stick their heads in the sand and probably continue to buy penis enlargement pills and diet pills that allow you to lose weight without diet and exercise. (James Shapiro, chief operating officer, Drafthouse Films)


 

 

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